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    Enthusiast Gives Netizens the Creeps With Physics-Defying Videos of Russian Cityscapes

    Dmitry Kataev / YouTube
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    Until recently, photorealistic footage would take months to make and cost millions of dollars. Now, a Russian enthusiast known for his passion for mixing 3D animation of fantastical monsters and scenarios with real-life ‘everyday’ footage is working to blur the boundaries between the imaginary and reality, presumably at just a fraction of the cost.

    Dmitry Kataev, a 3D graphics enthusiast going by the YouTube handle DimanOperator, has released a new viral video of a seemingly ordinary scene in his hometown of Samara. But the clip soon turns bizarre as the marquee entrance to a Soviet-era apartment block begins rapidly ascending from its foundation, with the ‘commentator’ behind the frame quipping that this turns out to be a very “unusual house entrance.”

    First posted on YouTube last week, the video spread like wildfire on Russian social media, racking up 200k+ views, making it a candidate to join the animator’s other incredible videos in total views. One popular one, titled ‘Very pretty zoom’, features a camera operator using a fictional ‘5000x’ zoom lens to peek into a neighbouring apartment, first focusing in on a woman undressing after a shower,  but then zooming further and further still, into her sunglasses, before eventually showing the ‘cameraman’ filming through his own window.

    Other creative illusions, featuring everything from illusory household objects to an open “interdimensional portal” in his bathroom to a Spiderman-like ability to climb down walls of a multistorey building, have similarly racked up the views.

     

    Recently interviewed by Russian web portal Tjournal, Dmitry revealed that he has been interested in computer-generated graphics for over two decades, and that his passion has helped to spark a career in video advertising. As for the videos on his own channel, they are the products of his own imagination, and something that he’s really proud of, he said. “I work to implement the ideas that come to my head, no one rushes me or breathes down my neck,” the enthusiast explained.

    One of Dmitry’s first videos, featuring a creepy giant spider-like creature climbing the walls of two apartment buildings, has racked up over 3.6 million views since being uploaded in 2014. “I made the first video of the giant stickman climbing along the walls of a building purely for entertainment. It was about four in the morning, I couldn’t sleep, got up, went to the window and looked into the courtyard. The idea came into my head that at that moment, when everyone was sleeping, was when such a mysterious creature might come out,” he joked. The video became a hit, and Dmitry soon released several creepy follow-ups.

    Dmitry promises to release a new video next month, and said he also plans to release more instructional videos helping aspiring videomakers with tips. Fortunately, most of his videos feature English subtitles.

    In recent months, deepfakes, another new form of computer-assisted fakery, have been taking the internet by storm, using a machine learning algorithm to create hyper-realistic fake content, with computers trained to detect the facial expressions and mannerisms of celebrities, politicians and public figures through face-swapping technology. That technology has given rise to grave concerns over the potential to use such ‘deep fakes’ to create fake news and other malicious content, particularly as the technology becomes more and more impressive, cheaper and more difficult to detect.

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